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Russia loses contact with new weather satellite

Russian space agency Roscosmos says it cannot establish contact with a weather satellite just hours after it was launched from a new spaceport.

“During the first scheduled communication session with the space vehicle, contact has not been established because it is not on its planned orbit,” Roscosmos said in a statement on Tuesday, referring to the Meteor weather satellite.

“Information is currently being analyzed,” the statement added.

No further details were provided.

The Soyuz rocket carrying the Meteor satellite took off at 2:41 pm (0541 GMT) on Tuesday from Russia’s new Vostochny cosmodrome in the country’s far east.

“All the initial stages of the rocket’s flight went according to plan,” the space agency had said after the liftoff.

According to Roscosmos, the rocket also carried 18 other satellites from Canada, the United States, Japan, Germany, Sweden, and Norway.

The rocket was the second to be launched from Vostochny. The first launch from the new spaceport took place in April last year.

The new spaceport was built to ease dependence on the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which Moscow has been renting since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia has another cosmodrome — the Plesetsk in the country’s north — which is used for satellite launches and missile testing. But Vostochny, like the Kazakh launchpad, is closer to the equator, making launches cheaper and more energy-efficient.

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